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WP Theater records

 Collection
Identifier: SSC-MS-00361

Scope and Contents

The WP Theater records document the theatrical productions, educational programs, script commisions, and administrative growth of WP Theater, from a subsidiary of American Place Theater to an independently operated theater company. Included are play scripts, materials related to play productions, administrative records of the theater, and the records of Julia Miles, longtime artistic director. Particularly well documented are the theater education program and plays commissioned by WP Theater. The scripts in the collection include those by such recognized writers as Cynthia Ozick, Eve Ensler, Paula Giddings, Susan Brownmiller, Gail Sheehy, Judith Viorst, Molly Haskell and Penelope Gilliatt. Also included is a script for Letters Home by Rose Lerman Goldemberg based on Sylvia Plath's letters to her family.

Dates

  • 1951 - 2010

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, with a few scripts in Vietnamese and Hindi.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Access

Until we move into New Neilson in early 2021, collections are stored in multiple locations and may take up to 48 hours to retrieve. Researchers are strongly encouraged to contact Special Collections (specialcollections@smith.edu) at least a week in advance of any planned visits so that boxes may be retrieved for them in a timely manner.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that she owns copyright, Julia Miles has assigned the copyright of WP Theater to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Julia Miles or WP Theater, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

WP Theater (previously Women's Project Theater and Women's Project and Productions) was founded in 1978 by Julia Miles to address the conspicuous underrepresentation of women artists working in American theater. Its purpose was to identify and nurture the work of women-identified playwrights, directors, and actors. The playwrights whose works were produced by WP theater, either in publicly rehearsed readings or full productions, make up a significant portion of these records. They include scripts by include well-known authors including Joyce Carol Oates, Susan Brownmiller, Paula Giddings, Eve Ensler, Wendy Wasserstein, Gail Sheehy, Cynthia Ozick and Molly Haskell.

Under a grant from the Ford Foundation, Miles first created The Women’s Project under the umbrella of The American Place Theatre to encourage the development of female playwrights and directors and to provide a forum for their work. For its first nine years, WP Theater staged its productions in the basement of the American Place Theatre and, while there, produced rehearsed readings, studio productions, and, in a few cases, main-stage productions. In 1987, the project left the American Place Theatre and became an independent organization.

Since 1978, WP Theater has produced more than 600 Off-Broadway plays and developmental projects and has partnered with a number of other New York theater companies for co-productions, including Playwrights Horizons and The New Group. Often, WP Theater produces plays that have New York or world premieres. The WP Theater expanded their reach to new audiences and participants by integrating programs such as rehearsed readings for plays in development, residencies, internships for cis, trans* and gender non-conforming playwrights and writing teams, guest workshops, and partnerships with other theater organizations.

Extent

82 linear feet (98 containers)

0.00098 Gigabytes (59 digital files copied from 3 floppy disks)

Overview

WP Theater was founded in 1978 by Julia Miles to develop and cultivate the creative talents of women in the American theater. WP Theater sought to give women from all areas of theater the opportunity to establish their professional credibility, gain visibility and foster their artistic growth. The collection includes play scripts, promotional materials, administrative records, and materials related to Julia Miles, founder and artistic director. WP Theater often commissioned plays by women writers. Playwrights whose work WP Theater produced, either in public rehearsed readings or full productions, make up a significant portion of these records and include those by such widely recognized authors as Cynthia Ozick, Eve Ensler, Paula Giddings, Susan Brownmiller, Gail Sheehy, Judith Viorst, Molly Haskell and Penelope Gilliatt. Also included is a script for Letters Home by Rose Lerman Goldemberg based on Sylvia Plath's Letters Home.

Arrangement

Records are divided into three series: Series I contains materials related to plays and productions put on by WP Theater; Series II contains administrative records; and Series III contains the personal records of Julia Miles, the founder and longtime artistic director of Women's Project Theater. Information on festivals, play series, and plays put on in a particular season can be found in Series II. Series are arranged alphabetically.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request access to this digital content.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Julia Miles and Lisa McNulty between 1989 and 2014.

Separated Materials

In February, 2019, duplicate ticket stubs from various performances, playbills, newsletters and scripts were removed from the collection and recycled. A few of each of these items were kept before removing the duplicates. Employee and student financial information was also removed and destroyed. Plays and playbills unrelated to Women's Project Theater were discarded.

Processing Information

The WP Theater records came to the Sophia Smith Collection in eight donations from 1989-2014. Parts of the papers arrived foldered and organized, as they had been in the WP Theater offices, but many documents arrived unfoldered and unordered. In 2018, Amanda Ferrara did some preliminary processing. In organizing the materials, in many cases folder titles were taken from the group's original organization. Other folder titles were created by the Ferrara. Unfoldered materials were roughly sorted and and described so they could be made available for research use.

In January-February 2019, processing was carried out by Madison White, Scott Biddle, and Ellice Amanna. When we came to the collection, it had already been partially processed, so we used the existing structure to determine how we would order the collection. For unprocessed boxes, we separated materials into 3 series: Plays, Administrative Files, and Julia Miles papers. We removed obvious duplicates and sensitive materials. Materials related to education were carefully screened to remove any FERPA protected materials. For materials that we were unsure whether to include in series 1 or 2 (mainly rehearsed readings and festivals) we let the previous work done take the lead. We moved AV and digital materials to their own boxes, but decided to describe them as part of the three series.

Once series had been roughly sorted and duplicates separated, we then started ordering individual series. All series were ordered alphabetically. We refoldered and boxed as needed, mainly when slumping was an issue. Since most folders already had accurate labeling, we decided to keep existing file names and to only rarely separate materials found in one folder. AV materials and posters were ordered in the same way as the collection.

Once the collection had its new arrangement we started on the description, correcting mistakes as we went. Series 1, Plays, were described at the play level, with brief descriptions of the materials in each play’s files. Series 2 and 3 were described at the file level. AV and oversize posters and art were described within each series, including extent, format, and content information.

The contents of three floppy disks were copied to networked storage for preservation and access; the original directory and file structure was retained and file lists were created. Three additional floppy disks containing draft scripts for "Night Sky" were unable to be copied.

Title
Finding Aid to the WP Theater records
Status
Minimum Finding Aid (Completed)
Author
Collection processed by Madison White, Ellice Amanna, and Scott Biddle.
Date
2006, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:17-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 04/23/2018: This resource record was modified by Amanda Ferrara to include the most up-to-date information.
  • 18-01-2019: Updated to include processed arrangement
  • 2019-03-04: Added digital objects

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Contact:
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton MA 01063